by: Russ Amott [ ]
The Jagdtiger was a 71 ton heavy tank destroyer used by Germany at the end of WWII, with between 70 and 88 produced. Because of the excessive weight and enormous size, it was difficult to move and prone to excessive breakdowns. While the main gun, a 12.8cm PaK.44 L/55 could destroy any allied vehicle it encountered, it had no real impact on the war. A proposal was made by Krupp engineers to replace the PaK.44 with the even more powerful (and heavy) 12.8cm PaK.80 L/66 gun. The weight of the extended barrel would have been too much while traveling and would have torn the mountings off of the vehicle and would have required that the entire gun be retracted for travel, with the breech assembly hanging over the rear engine deck. To protect the gun a shield assembly was proposed to be mounted on the rear upper hull, as discussed on a World of Tanks forum here: http://ftr.wot-news.com/2014/01/07/its-a-fake-part-25-jagdtiger/.
In order to prepare the gun to fire, a crew member would need to climb out onto the rear engine deck to release the gun, and then the gun would have to be slid forward into firing position. I don't know what process would have been used to sight the gun in but the entire process would have been excessively time consuming, requiring that the Jagdtiger be used only from a prepared position. Getting it out under fire would have been equally impractical. The idea was dismissed and aside from the single line drawing I know of, nothing else came of the project until World of Tanks and similar games started pressing for new, bigger tanks where physical limitations aren't applicable. Dragon models has followed on the popularity of the gaming community with a release of the Jagdtiger now armed with the 12.8cm L/66 gun.
This is the same kit as reviewed by Darren Baker here:http://www.armorama.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=Reviews&file=index&req=showcontent&id=9571 with the only new parts being for the longer barrel. The shorter L/55 barrel is also included. The kit comes in the standard, top opening box with artwork of the Jagdtiger in solid dark yellow paint, gun in the travel lock and on the move.
Inside the box, the parts are carefully packaged in separate cellophane bags-something I very much appreciate Dragon Models doing as it helps protect parts from being broken. I did not see any broken or miss-molded parts other than one partially molded track link. There are a few minor sink marks that weren't an issue, and a considerable amount of flash on many of the parts. There is some nice textured detail on the cast gun mantlet and the texture of the rolled steel on the upper hull as well as good bolt head detail on the road wheels and sprockets. This is an older molding from Dragon and is showing its age.
As mentioned above, the only difference between this kit and the standard Henschel Jagdtiger is the L/66 gun barrel. Nothing else is new. The instructions are typical of Dragon, with CAD based line drawings. A paint guide is included at the front of the instruction booklet with paints called out by name and number for Gunze Mr. Color and Aqueous color as well as Model Master enamel paints. Two paint scheme options, both imaginary but likely based on actual standard production Jagdtigers are offered, with the only markings being the balkencruz.
I followed the instructions carefully, for the most part, jumping ahead only when I was waiting for cement to set on prior assemblies. First were the Drive sprockets, idlers and road wheels. For the idlers, the instructions have parts B1 and B5 reversed-something modelers will pick up on quickly but still a hassle to have to stop and double check. Once these are done the torsion bars are attached to the lower hull. I have read that the locator pins leave the road wheels sitting high. I rotated them as much as possible (there is considerable play with the locator pin) to a lower position. The final drive plate for the transmission has a sizeable gap which I filled partially, but which is also hidden behind the final drive housing and suspension system. I test fit the road wheels and installed the hubs without glue. Fit at this point was loose.
Next up was assembly of the rear hull plate. I added the exhausts and covers, drain plates and other details, including the jack mount. As I added this I wondered if the jack would have been of any use. Reading up on the subject showed that it was normally not included as there was no real plan to recover and repair the vehicles if damaged. Off came the mounting bracket arms and the holes were filled. I also filled the holes where the jack block would go. An issue I had read about in assembly of the Jagdtiger kits is that there is a noticeable gap at the join between the lower hull and rear plate. I pressed the parts carefully and firmly together to avoid this and only had a small gap to fill. This would result later in a gap along the upper edge where the rear plate meets the engine deck.
Next up in assembly is the upper hull. This is generally one piece, with the rear of the fighting compartment as a separate part. The hatch doors on that part have interior detail, but aside from the gun mount there is no other interior detail, so I left most of it off. The spare track hangars are poorly molded, being flat and thick on one side and partially rounded on the other. The indentations they go into don't quite fit and as a result, I got some of them a bit crooked. There are a number of other tiny bits that I believe would be for the tow cable that also go on the sides. These have placement spots indicated on the hull sides-raised squares or rectangles. Again, detail is thick to one side. Mold lines are also fairly prominent on these parts.
I assembled the engine deck per the instructions but then filled the holes that are indicated for mounting the MG 42 as an AA gun. I believed that it would be in the way when the gun was pulled out over the engine deck. The photo etch screens are very nice but the photo etch is not brass. It is harder-steel or nickel coated, and the smaller parts were difficult to get off. As a result, aside from the screens I didn't use any other photo etch from the kit.
The kit includes the option of either clear or solid gray styrene periscopes. I opted for the clear as the detail is much better on them. I added the basic tools and cleaning rods on the side-the cleaning rods have large ejector pin marks on the outer face that need to be dealt with.
The main gun assembly was very easy. I am not a fan of two part barrels, but this one went together very well. There is no rifling at the muzzle end. Once installed, everything moved. The hull MG is fixed rather than moveable. I am used to the full MG34 in the ball mount from other Dragon kits.
I assembled all the major parts and everything went together well. A metal tow cable is included, which looks nice but is in one piece and needs to be cut into two. I have not been able to do this with the tools I have and keep the ends from fraying. The instructions state to drill a hole in the bracket for the cleaning rods and thread the tow cable through this. It won't fit as it is too large in diameter. There are also no clear parts callout for the tow cable brackets on the side. Considering again that this vehicle would not be a likely candidate for recovery I left the tow cables off.
I looked at the line drawing and made my own assumption as to what the added plates on the rear would have looked like. I don't know if they would have hinged out or been bolted in place to allow access to the engine deck. There must have been a plan for a tarp to cover the gun and protect it from the elements, as well as keep rain or snow from blowing in the open rear hatch. I assumed it would have been open on the top to provide room to move around. Considering how relatively simple it was I think Dragon could have made more of an effort here to match the drawing.
I gave the main parts a base coat of olive green to get all the places that wouldn't be reached later, and then assembled the tracks. Every single link needed attention both to remove ejector pin marks (all raised) and remove flash. I had to file between the teeth on the second of the two part track links to get them to fit into the first. I then started looking to see how many links were needed for each side. The instructions don't say. I finally found a source that said 47 pairs on each side for the King Tiger. I added one pair as the Jagdtiger hull is longer, and then found that another pair was a better fit, so 49 pair total, or 98 parts. Once the tracks were fitted I gave them a base coat of black and then metallic gray. I covered them and began painting. I made up a scheme in my head and went with it, using Tamiya Buff and Red Brown over the Tamiya Olive green. I did a light wash and a little dusting of pigments over the tracks, showing light wear as it seems Jagdtigers didn't enjoy a long life and wouldn't show a lot of wear.
There is still some weathering I would like to do, but the build itself is completed and shows the end result. The Jagdtiger is still a nice kit and has some good detail, but many of the molds are in need of a clean-up, or a redo. I don't mind the DS tracks, although I am wary of them falling apart a few years from now, but with the shape the Magic Tracks were in, it would have provided some relief. With new competitors coming out, offering improved products, I think Dragon will need to make more of an effort in the future in terms of attention to kit quality and detail. This kit built up nicely but there was obvious room for improvement.